Intro to Permaculture Weekend July 30 & 31

Want to learn more about permaculture, but don’t have the time to take a two-week Permaculture Design Course? Then join us for a two-day Introduction to Permaculture Weekend at Glacial Lakes Permaculture in Estelline, South Dakota!

Topics will include:

• History, Principles and Ethics of Permaculture
• Permaculture Design & Methods
• Climate- and weather-resilient food garden design
• Water harvesting, storage, recycling
• Ecosystems, landscapes and soils
• Earthworking
• Permaculture in cold climates
• Orchards & forest gardens
• Animals in permaculture design
• Social permaculture
• And much more….

Activities will include a tour of Glacial Lakes Permaculture (the host site), lectures, presentations, hands-on projects, design work, group discussion, and networking with others interested in ecological and sustainable living.

COST: $100 – includes two full days of instruction & activities, tea/coffee breaks, two locally-grown organic lunches, handouts.

For more information or to register for this course, contact Karl Schmidt: karl@glaciallakespermaculture.org

Introduction to Permaculture Weekend July 30 & 31

Want to learn more about permaculture, but don’t have the time to take a two-week Permaculture Design Course? Then join us for a two-day Introduction to Permaculture Weekend at Glacial Lakes Permaculture in Estelline, South Dakota!

Topics will include:

• History, Principles and Ethics of Permaculture
• Permaculture Design & Methods
• Climate- and weather-resilient food garden design
• Water harvesting, storage, recycling
• Ecosystems, landscapes and soils
• Earthworking
• Permaculture in cold climates
• Orchards & forest gardens
• Animals in permaculture design
• Social permaculture
• And much more….

Activities will include a tour of Glacial Lakes Permaculture (the host site), lectures, presentations, hands-on projects, design work, group discussion, and networking with others interested in ecological and sustainable living.

COST: $100 – includes two full days of instruction & activities, tea/coffee breaks, two locally-grown organic lunches, handouts.

For more information or to register for this course, contact Karl Schmidt: karl@glaciallakespermaculture.org

Calculating & Controlling Transportation Costs from Farmgate to Consumer

‘Calculating & Controlling Transportation Costs from Farmgate to Consumer’  is a free and open to the public Land Stewardship Project workshop on calculating and reducing the costs of transporting food marketed directly to customers.

The workshop will be held Tuesday, April 12, at the Ag Country Auditorium of the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris (46352 State Hwy. 329).

This workshop is for ALL farmers whether you raise livestock, fruits and vegetables, honey or whatever. A light supper will be available at 5:30 p.m., and the workshop will begin at 6 p.m. A meal and materials are provided, so RSVPs are required.

Please RSVP and get more details about this workshop by contacting Tom Taylor or Terry VanDerPol at 320-269-2105. RSVPs can also be made by email to Tom Taylor: ttaylor@landstewardshipproject.org

Transportation Costs Workshops for Farmers

If you market food products you grow directly to consumers, to institutions, retailers or through a distributor you’ll want to attend one of the following free public workshops conducted by the Land Stewardship Project on calculating and reducing the costs of transporting direct-marketed farm products to customers. Chose the date and location that works best for you:

THIS MONDAY – April 4, 2011 in Litchfield, MN at the Public Library, 216 North Marshall Avenue from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Produce farmer Greg Reyonlds of Riverbend Farm will talk about his transportation costs and how they figure into running a successful farming operation.

Space is limited for this workshop so please RSVP to Tom Taylor at 320-269-2105 or ttaylor@landstewardshipproject.org to secure your place and to find out what farm information you should bring. Let him know how many people will be attending with you. There will be a light supper at 5:30 with the workshop starting at 6:00. This workshop is free and open to the public.

April 12, 2011 – Morris, MN at the Ag Country Auditorium of the West Central Research and Outreach Center from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Mike Stine transportation and distribution costs and how that’s helped him create a system that works for his grass fed beef farm.

If neither of these dates or locations work for you, this same workshop will be held in the Winona-Lewiston area sometime in July, 2011.

For both of the April workshops, a light supper will be available at 5:30 p.m., and the workshop will begin at 6 p.m. Space is limited so RSVPs are required. To RSVP and get more details about this workshop by contacting Tom Taylor or Terry VanDerPol at 320-269-2105.

Gasoline and diesel fuel prices are skyrocketing, and for anyone who markets food products, increasing transportation costs are cutting into their profits. To bring transportation costs under control, it’s important to know exactly what they add to the cost of the products farmers sell.

This hands-on workshop will provide tools and resources to better understand the transportation costs incurred in a farm marketing business, and what transportation adds to the cost of each unit of farm product delivered.

“When farmers began developing these direct-from-the-farm markets a few years ago, the attitude was ‘Do whatever it takes to make it work,’ ” said Terry VanDerPol, Community Food Systems Director for the Land Stewardship Project.

“But as this sector of the economy grows and matures, it’s become clear activities such as transporting the product from Point A to Point B can benefit from the use of distributors or integrators. In order to determine if such strategies fit their operations, farmers need to get a better handle on their costs.”

Spring Has Sprung! (Cough, Gasp)

How can you tell that spring is here?  When you walk into any farm, garden, hardware, or department store and run smack into a wall of toxic pesticide and herbicide fumes.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I think when I encounter that odor is, Wow!  That’s just the thing I want to spread around my food/put on the lawn my kids and dog play on.

Last week, I walked into a local farm store and was just about knocked over by the stench–all that product is right up front in its big, bright packaging with names that hearken to taming the Wild West or embarking on a military campaign.  I couldn’t get back to the aisle I wanted without passing through the noxious wall of off-gassing.

Today in the hardware store, a stacked display of generic red canisters of Insecticide was featured prominently at the entrance to the lawn and garden aisle–along with that accompanying offensive odor.  I find it odd that lots of companies have no-fragrance policies for their employees and then expect them to work and their customers to shop in a cloud of toxic “perfume.”

I’ll have plenty more to say about specifics as we get on with the growing season, but here’s a start and a basic statement of my philosophy: there are plenty of better and safer ways to deal with weeds and unwanted garden intruders that don’t involve spreading these kinds of chemicals.

And the methods are not hard or expensive, either.  How much does it cost to boil a kettle-full of water and dump it on the weeds in the cracks of your sidewalk?  How difficult is that? How hard is it to leave the clippings on your lawn instead of bagging and trashing them and then dumping urea all over the place?

If you want to exclude bugs from your crops, practice a good rotation or use a (re-usable) floating row cover.  If you have potato bugs, squish them or pick them off–or pay a kid to do it.

I know these are just a few very generic and simplistic methods–and I am happy to write at length on others as well, but the point is that they work, they’re easy, and they’re not filling our world full of poison.

When I walk in those places and through those clouds of fumes, all I can think is, that’s the smell of cancer. That’s the smell of kidney failure. That’s the smell of colony collapse and amphibian decline–the smell of dead soil and contaminated food and drinking water.

And I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I think Spring ought to smell like.